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Write to Publish Writers Workshop The Café Writing Contests
Sue Weems: Becoming Writer, Editor, Bbp Participant, Winter Writing Contest 2016, Story Cartel Course
Member since June 25, 2015

Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveller with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website.

Website: http://www.suelarkinsweems.com

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How to Create a Character Based on Internet Comments Sections

Do you argue with strangers on the internet? (I plead the fifth). Even if you have enough self-control not to engage most arguments and comment sections, chances are high that you think through how you would argue with them if you weren’t fairly certain they are a troll in an alternate universe. Also if your mother wasn’t your friend on Facebook.

Are you leveraging those thoughts? Or just rehearsing them, allowing yourself to feel irritated and angry? Put that energy to good use for your writing. Your next character is hiding in the comments section of nearly any forum. Here’s how to find him or her.

How to Develop Story Ideas Into Amazing Stories

I often hear practicing writers ask, “What if I can’t think of anything to write about?” Sometimes they even have notebooks full of observations, but they feel like none of them are good enough for a story.

I’ve felt the same way, but there are more opportunities or seeds for ideas in our notebooks than we think. It might be an image, a snippet of a conversation we overheard at lunch, or a social issue that grates against us. Once we have the seeds, how do we take those seeds and develop them into stories?

How to Research Your Genre to Write Better Stories

The first time I wrote a novel, I didn’t think about genre until the first draft was done, and I began trying to untangle my mess in revision. After two painful years (mostly comprised of avoidance, procrastination, and general despair), I hired a developmental editor who began our first phone call by asking, “What kind of book is this?” and “Who is your ideal reader?”

“It’s for everyone,” I said. I could hear the rise and fall of my breathing in the silence.

“No, it isn’t,” she said in a kind, but firm voice. Within minutes, I realized I had skipped a clarifying question that would guide every step of the book process from the plot and characters to cover design and marketing.

How to Write a Speech Your Audience Remembers

I’ve had some additional duties this year that have required me to add speech writing to my list of skills. I didn’t realize how much it would improve my writing in general. Even if you run in fear of public speaking (you’re in good company—95% of adults say it’s their number one fear), try these techniques and see if speech writing helps your writing too!

Writing Prompt: The Secrets We Bury
by Sue Weems in Writing Prompt: The Secrets We Bury
10:44 am on April 19, 2019

I recently finished a novel where a character hiding in a secret panel in an old house had lost consciousness and died. The only person who had an inkling of the hiding space was a child who grew up harboring the terrible secret. Secrets are a great way to add depth to a character, especially if the secret is on theme. Try this writing prompt and see what you uncover!

How to Create Problems for Your Characters That Force Them to Grow

Most of us try to avoid hard things. We have traffic apps to help us steer clear of wrecks and construction on the roadway. We espouse slogans like “work smarter, not harder.” We love hacks, apps, and tips to make most anything easier or more comfortable.

But what if the hard thing is the best way to become the people we want to be? What if we’re avoiding the very thing that holds the key to our growth?

Sometimes as writers, we let our characters settle for the easy life. What is the default state for your main character? Where is he most comfortable? You’ve got to get the character out of that state as quickly as possible.

How to Hone Your Writer’s Eye by Simply Paying Attention

What are you learning?

Sometimes it feels like I can’t learn things fast enough. I’ve been working to improve my ability to evoke emotion in my writing. It’s been harder than I think it should be, and I often lament that I don’t have enough time to learn all I need to learn to make my fiction work.

But as I wring my hands thinking I don’t have time, I’m missing a great opportunity right in front of me every day. Being present, paying attention, and thinking about the world I see are all excellent ways to learn. When I look at the world through a writer’s eye, I see writing lessons all around me.

How to Beat All-or-Nothing Thinking and Get More Writing Done

It’s a new year! New goals! New motivation! 

But what happens when an ER visit derails me, a work project explodes and requires far more time than I planned, or I experience some other plan-busting interruption?

Too often, I have an all-or-nothing attitude toward change and progress. If I’ve eaten off the plan for one meal today, I’m far more likely to make unhealthy choices the rest of the day, week, and month. How can I short-circuit this negative thinking pattern and abandon all-or-nothing thinking to get more writing done this year?

How to Use Scars to Deepen Characterization
by Sue Weems in How to Use Scars to Deepen Characterization
08:30 am on December 14, 2018

Sometimes I have students who say they don’t like to write. I suggest that perhaps they haven’t found a subject or story worth writing yet. Then I ask them if they have any scars.

Inevitably, the stories pour out of them, and they point to their arms, their foreheads, and their legs revealing skateboarding mishaps, fights, and sometimes deeper trauma.

Scars often hold an entire world of story. We wanted something and the pursuit of it left a mark.

Giving a character a scar can be a cliché or it can be a fast-track to deeper character development. When you’re creating characters with scars, execution is key.

How to Actually Focus on Writing: The Dangers of Pseudo-Working

Pseudo-working looks like work, but it doesn’t produce much. If you’ve ever been trying to focus on writing an article while checking your phone for social media updates and fielding dinner requests, you’re pseudo-working. (No, I’m not doing that right now, why do you ask?)

Admitting the dangers of pseudo-working has helped me focus and get more writing done in less time. See if it will help you too!

Writing Deadlines: The Unlikely Secret to Creative Freedom

I’m a firm believer in deadlines.

Some will argue that creativity has no end point and that they can’t be inspired if there’s a timeline. If that mindset results in powerful writing and stories that resonate with readers as regularly as you’d like, then go forth and continue with the process that is working for you!

If, however, you can’t seem to finish in the time and manner you desire, a little deadline practice might be just the thing you need to propel your writing forward.

How to Break the Rules for the Best NaNoWriMo Ever

Across the world this week, writers began spinning stories and obsessively checking their word counts, all in pursuit of that magic number: 50,000 words. Every year, I tell myself I don’t have time to do NaNoWriMo, and every year, I end up participating anyway.

But a couple years ago, I decided to break the rules and I had the best NaNoWriMo month ever. Maybe you need to break some rules yourself to redefine your writing this month.

How to Actually Focus on Your Writing
by Sue Weems in How to Actually Focus on Your Writing
10:00 am on October 19, 2018

Many writers I know are overwhelmed and struggle to focus on writing anything. Do I research? Get a draft down? Should I be blogging? Do I need to get a business license? What about social media? What’s for dinner? (Sorry, my kids added that one).

A few years ago, I learned a technique that helped me get a handle on my to do list, and freed me to prioritize my writing. Along with sneaking time to write, learning to write in batches has changed the way I work.

How to Get Story Ideas From Unexpected Headlines

A few years ago, I read a startling headline in a back section of the Sunday newspaper. It said “Man Likely Padlocked Himself in Bag Found in Bathtub.” I blinked twice, sure I had misread something.

Even after I read the article, I still couldn’t believe it. I was grieved for his family and friends, but I couldn’t help but see the possibilities for inspiring fiction. I wondered how it could even be done?  As a claustrophobic, I wondered, why?

This situation and article were surely stranger than fiction, but it prompted so many questions. Turns out questions are at the heart of great fiction, and you can use headlines to develop ideas all day long. Here’s how to get story ideas from the strangest news headlines.


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